The sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels in Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland, yesterday were more than four times the record levels detected in the town on Saturday. As reported, the pollution, caused by the Holuhraun eruption, measured 2550μg/m3 at its peak yesterday. To put this into perspective, the levels on Tuesday measured close to 0, according to the below graph published on the website of the Environment Agency of Iceland.
Residents complained about having a bad taste in their mouth, a sore throat, stinging eyes and headaches. “It was like being in an enclosed space with a diesel engine running,” Ari Sigursteinsson, project manager at Fjarðarbyggð municipality described to ruv.is.
The Iceland Review team was in the East Fjords yesterday. An orange-brown haze could be seen over the mountains. The haze appeared quite suddenly with the wind and got progressively worse over the course of a couple of hours but the sky cleared again in the early evening.
The view from Fáskrúðsfjörður at 2:50 pm yesterday. Photos: Zoë Robert/Iceland Review
Children and people with respiratory disorders were advised to stay indoors, close all windows and turn off ventilation systems, while healthy individuals were advised against physical exertion outdoors.
The air quality is also being monitored in Reykjahlíð by Lake Mývatn and Egilsstaðir, East Iceland. The pollution detectors in Reyðarfjörður were placed there because of the nearby aluminum smelter.
The view from Fáskrúðsfjörður at 4:30 pm yesterday.
Gas emissions at the eruption site remained high yesterday. As local gas concentrations at the site can be life-threatening, people at the eruption site are advised to wear gas masks and carry gas meters.
The view from Fáskrúðsfjörður at 5:30 pm yesterday.
Scientists and media personnel at the site have had to leave the area repeatedly as concentrations of gas reached dangerous levels due to sudden changes in wind conditions.
At the eruption site, local wind anomalies can occur due to thermal convection from the hot lava. This makes the conditions on site extremely dangerous as winds can change suddenly and unpredictably, the Icelandic Met Office stated in its midday report yesterday.
The view from the road between Fáskrúðsfjörður and Egilsstaðir at 6:20 pm.
The smell of sulfur dioxide from the Holuhraun eruption has also been detected on the west coast of Norway.